Wi-Fi would help advance public safety

A recent letter described "financial disasters" experienced by cities that have pursued wireless municipal networks. But there are as many positive research reports as negative. According to the June edition of MuniWireless, there are at least three models for establishing wireless municipal networks.

Many cities and counties have funded networks completely from public money. Some municipalities also have contracted with a communications company to build out the network, intending to fund it by selling subscriptions to residents.

A third model, preferred by the mayor, is a public/private partnership, in which Toledo will contract with a communications company to build and support the network, with the City agreeing to be an anchor partner to provide a minimum revenue stream.

The amount is a known quantity; no additional funds will be required from the City or the project partners to build out or support the network. The capital requirement to build and operate the network is the responsibility of the private partner.

This Wi-Fi model allows the City to advance the capability of safety forces without having any detrimental effect on the budget.

If you asked citizens to rank municipal WiFi along with other city services, it would probably rank low. However, if you described Wi-Fi as supporting police and fire, Wi-Fi would likely rank high.

Having wireless access means providing life-saving and property-saving information to first responders. It means relaying information (pictures, mug shots, fingerprints, videos, maps) interactively in real time. Safety forces' ability to communicate is essential to protect the community, and first responders are crippled without the ability to communicate.

As a bonus, Wi-Fi will also provide Toledoans with free, high-speed connectivity anywhere in the city.

A wireless municipal network is not another black hole for tax dollars; it's a force multiplier for public safety and other municipal services.

Patsy F. Scott

Director
Information and
Communications Technology
City of Toledo

http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070615/OPINION03/706...

Gee, we can get free wi-fi maybe in our houses, as studies have shown that the signals do not always reach where they need to reach.

And that is added bonus to those that are struggling to make ends meet, free wi-fi.

No votes yet

This is a non-essentail, though possibly bennificial action. I really think we need to do surveys, town halls and explore every aspect and consequence thourghly prior to any action. Anything that appears to be "too good to be true", usually is. This may just be a matter of timing. Too soon for such advancements?

The article is from MuniWireless, The voice of public broadband...I can't imagine they would be bias towards municipalities setting up wireless networks and would write articles in its favor.

I think there is a muni-WiFi network here in Arlington, however, if there is, I don't know a soul who uses it or even know it exists.

Bottom-line, this is a complete waste of money and is an area of business that the city does not belong in.

Toledo has to stop trying to put the cart before the horse when it comes to attracting the young. WiFi, bikepaths, trendy bars, and other youth oriented things are the result of a vibrant youth population not the cause of one.

Attract the growth industries through sensible tax policy, get the union boot off your neck and then the young will come along with a slew of businesses which will provide the services they want.

Matt Holdridge
The Toledo Tattler

Every time Toledo tries to be better, the same people come out of the wood work to tear it down.

I'd be a rich man if I had a nickel for all the people who bitched and moaned about the Mud Hens moving down town. They kept going on and on about how no one would pay $5 for parking and how they would be raped and murdered for sure it they went down town.

People are complaining because it's most likely not a local company doing the install, but if Buckeye were doing you'd be bitching about JR Block seeking to control everything.

It's so frustrating...

Here is an article from MuniWireless about one town having a wireless public safety network
http://www.muniwireless.com/article/articleview/5921/1/23/

Old South End Broadway

Has anybody actually found a city with a "track record" (at least one year) of proven wi-fi performance, or is Toledo going to be the guinea pig?

Old South End Broadway

Maybe we should hold back, and see how other places are doing. We might have to hire more police, but we could fire them after we found a suitable plan that works. Or we could start firing them now, and rely on the CCW law to take care of crime (or each other).

Old South End Broadway

Here's a question, what if the city spends the money (it doesn't have by-the-way) on this crackpot municipal Wi-Fi deal and Congress or the State of Ohio bans municipalites from entering the internet service business; would it not benefit us to wait and see how these issues are determined before committing funds to something, in my opinion, the city has no business in anyway?

From Wikipedia "A few states have banned municipal broadband, some states have restricted it, and other states have regulated it (requiring prudent business plans and studies). There are three bills before the current Congress that touch on the issue; one would affirm municipal broadband, one would restrict it, and one would prohibit it.

The FCC also addressed the issue when confronted with the question of whether a municipality was an "entity" under the Telecommunications Act. The Telecommunications Act states "No State or local statute or regulation, or other State or local legal requirement, may prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide any interstate or intrastate telecommunications service." 47 USC 253(a). The legal question presented was whether a state could prevent a municipality (its own subsidiary) from entering the telecommunication market. In the case, Missouri Municipal League v. Nixon, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that in fact a municipality was not an entity under the Telecommunications Act and that a state could determine what authority its own subordinate jurisdictions had."

Matt Holdridge
The Toledo Tattler

Does the city have the right to contract with any entity to provide communications for its public safety divisions? The city wanted to save money, but do they have the right (which I fully endorse) to upgrade their ability to communicate, and get, information that affects public safety? So let's forget about wi-fi for the public (even though it might save the taxpayers millions), but concentrate on whether it beneifts us (as taxpayers) to have wi-fi for our public safety organizations.

Old South End Broadway

Excuse my lack of knowledge regarding WIFI but I have a 7-year old Dell Inspiron 7500 laptop. Is this and all laptop pc's compatible with WIFI or would I have to buy an upgraded pc?

"All evil and unhappiness in this world comes from the I-concept."

"All evil and unhappiness in this world comes from the I-concept."

Below is a link to a story out of a county in western Pennsylvania that is upgrading to wi-fi for its public safety organizations. Maybe wi-fi would make more sense (and be more economical) if we considered it for our county, or even region. Does wi-fi make that much of a difference? Would lives and property be saved if our public safety organizations had access to data via wi-fi, or it just a "gee whiz" toy? If it is that valuable shouldn't we consider making our network a regional one? Aren't people in Wood County, and Monroe County affected by what occurs in Toledo (and vice versa)?

http://www.tribune-democrat.com/homepage/local_story_113235823.html

Old South End Broadway

If we ever did have a WMD, or other "9-11"-like event here we would need all the help we could get, and it would be better to communicate before help arrived. We would expect help from Detroit to Cleveland. So we better make sure that whatever "improvements" we make to our public safety communications work with our "neighbors".

It wasn't that long ago that (during the intervention in Grenada) the different services couldn't communicate with one another. We might want to find out what people in Monroe and Wood counties are doing, and try ensuring our communications works with theirs. It would also be helpful if we could communicate with them before we went went into the area affected if they ever needed help.

Remember the recent fire in Michigan where our hoses didn't work with their connectors?

Old South End Broadway

I'm not against all the latest fiddle-faddle and high tech stuff, but I think we as a country have become so enamored with gadgetry that we think it is the solution to everything. Rather than just leap on the bandwagon, we should try and understand what problems we are having with our current situation and how the proposed system will solve them. What problems are we now having that warrant this setup? Is this an opportunity to generate some kind of money for the city or a business advantage or something? Or is this just something that feels good? Can we do a cost/benefit analysis of this and and what it's supposed to provide for the city in tangible terms? Maybe it's not worth doing. Maybe it's crucial to future development. But who knows with our current state of knowledge? It sounds like buying a pig in a poke to me.

Pete, I am astounded. We are living proof that computers make a difference. I would have loved to have done all those book reports on a computer (with spell checking) rather than written by hand (with demerits for penmanship). I remember thinking that there had to be a better way than a manual typewriter (when I was finally allowed to use one). Maybe there are minuses from their use (I can write legibly), but all-in-all computers are (for me) a plus to education. Maybe that is empiric, rather than scientific but I will accept the anecdotal evidence. Computers work! All praise Intel!

I mean, you "googled" your search. Imagine doing that (20?30?40?) years ago.

Old South End Broadway

From Robert deBoer's blog:

From an official in Corpus Christi, TX (our model):

Old South End Broadway

I went on the city budget, and did some checking. We have 78.0 F.T.E. (full-time? e?) communications operators for the police and fire departments making regular pay of $3,070,150+ a year. We have 531 police officers, 95 sargeants, and 32 lieutenants, and 36 police records clerks. Maybe with wi-fi some of the redundancy could be eliminated (but, then, maybe not). The question might be: do we get more "bang for our buck" with wi-fi? Or are we better off using real human beings (with real benefits and retirement packages) to act as "layers" (and maybe catch errors, or make them) of redundancy to make a "robust" system?

Old South End Broadway

I found diagramming fascinating (and frustrating). But that is something that neither Archimedes nor Shakespeare did. What we find a valuable tool may not be even 50 years from now. There will always be "the cream of the crop" that flourish no matter what kind of phase "education" is going through. And many will just squeak by.

I don't think that students will do any better with "better" schools unless they have "better" homes. Until we get a handle on illegitimate births (or change the way our society deals with the poor) most of those kids won't succeed. A 100 years ago they could have made a living on a farm, or in a factory, but unless they can make it in entertainment (which has become a big industry) I don't see what they'll do.

Old South End Broadway

...discussed or addressed anywhere is the significant amount of money (primarily homeland security grants and other funds) to create the new 800 mhz communication system so that all first responders (police/fire) in the entire county (and branching into other counties, including SE michigan) can communicate with each other.

I understand the advantages of a wireless system and how it can be utilized with building inspectors or other such positions where work 'in the field' can be coordinated with 'work in the office.'

However, this wi-fi is being 'advertised' as for the safety forces and making them better able to respond - and serve and protect. So what ever happened to the 800 mhz and does the new radio system fit in or complement the wi-fi?

Is it not strange that no one on city council has asked about this?

Maggie, I found this on the web when I was looking into your question. This organization was started in Oct 2002. Wonder if Toledo Police are aware of it, and how it's going.

"The Midwest Public Safety Communications Consortium (MPSCC) was formed this year by law enforcement agencies in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. Today

Old South End Broadway

Another thing I found is that there is interference in the 800MHz band (often related to Nextel equipment). Maybe it is solved now (it showed up before 1999, I think). But I am seeing documents discussing "rebanding" from May of 2007.

Old South End Broadway

This is also supposed to be for "public safety" but

"In most major metropolitan areas, some or all of
the 700 MHz radio spectrum allocated for public
safety is blocked by ongoing television broadcast
operations on channels 63, 64, 68, 69 (and to some extent by adjacent channels 62, 65, and 67). Current law permits those T V stations to remain on the air until December 31 , 2006, or until 85 percent of households in the relevant market have access to DTV signals, which ever is later. There are about 250 million television sets currently in use in the United States. Only 3.5 million (1.4 percent) are capable of receiving DTV signals directly or through a set top box and current prices for DTV are not consumer friendly. The ability of public safety to use the 700 MHz radio spectrum is contingent upon how fast the public replaces its analog televisions with DTV."

Old South End Broadway

Here is an interesting link that looks at each part of the radio spectrum and why there are problems we don't normally hear about

http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/204348h.pdf

Old South End Broadway

...that many of the interference issues were resolved

And, when commissioner, I followed the MPSCC...if I remember correctly, their system - from within Ohio - included hospitals and health departments as well. I think that every entity that needed to participate did receive one of the radios (ex: like a hospital that would have 1 or 2 in their emergency room area).

Thanks NC for asking the question. I'll look forward to you posting the answer you get!

is the issue of including a backhaul provider to minimize the clutter in the 2.4 GHz portion of the network and to provide the bandwidth public safety needs on their 4.9 GHz band without the latency that is inherent with a mesh (bucket brigade) network.

In reality we are talking about three city networks:

1. The existing point-to-point 2.4GHz public network currently in use by the city.

2. A new 2.4 GHz non-public safety network (which is also in the shared portion of the spectrum.)

3. The 4.9 GHz licensed public-safety only network.

However, if the backhaul provider solution would be implemented, which is highly doubtful, the point-to-point network could be absorbed, further minimizing the crowding in the public portion (2.4 GHz) of the new network.

As buckeye Express is the likely backhaul provider to partner with, this may be where the resistance to a practical network comes in, I don't really know.

Another problem for the city in realizing/maximizing the benefits of a public wireless network is the capital costs associated with wireless utility metering, wireless notebooks/tablets for inspectors, etc.

Both networks could be a real boon to public and private alike as well as public safety, but how to properly implement the network is key and where my main concerns lie.

My money's on them trying to do it on the cheap and ending up with a mess on their hands.

But, old habits are the hardest to overcome...

For a more detailed explanation, consult several WiFi posts in the last couple of months on my blog.

Hooda Thunkit

From the city's site;

4) Is security the vendor

...from the Buckeye Institute:

Caution Warranted on Toledo Wi-Fi
By Marc Kilmer, posted June 19, 2007

The residents of Toledo are being told by their elected officials that they will soon have a wireless Internet system, available to all city residents, and it will not cost them a thing. It sounds too good to be true, and it probably is. The plan's details sketchy, but the history of other municipal wireless ventures suggests that taxpayers will pay for more than they expect. And service will be worse than promised, or both. Residents of Toledo should proceed with caution when considering this wi-fi venture.

http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/article/983

BTW - thanks for asking these questions, NC, and keeping us informed of the responses...or lack, thereof.

Well, it is the norm for most

But wait! There's more!

Seems if you add the Mayor's address you DO get results;

From: Scott, Patsy
To: Neighborhood Concerns
Cc: Toledo, Mayor , Sarantou, George
Subject: RE: First responders and wi-fi - Second request for response,please
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2007 10:52:39 -0400

The WiFi will complement the 800MHz. The 800MHz cannot receive the rich data. The WiFi will be the backup to the 800MHz in case the 800 MHz fails.

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

...isn't that special...and what rich data will they be transmitting?

glad you got an answer...thanks!

I have also put a question to Director Scott regarding the hardware, as in is all compatible or is there expenditures for the varied departments and that was on June 15th. and she has ignored the question, so far.

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

The city council met today about wi-fi.

http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070626/NEWS16/70...

Any comments or suggestions about what the city government is doing, or should do, to ensure this gamble turns out in favor of the taxpayers.

Old South End Broadway

I write this on my laptop connected via a wireless system at home. I have a similar system at my office. While in between, my phone gives me internet access complete with e-mail services.

While I depend heavily on internet access, I've already solved my personal issue by purchasing equipment and access for my needs. I'm not interested in a citywide wifi, regardless of the price.

Most people who need the internet have already properly addressed their personal requirement. The more dependent we become on the government, the more they control us by threatening to take things away. I can just hear the request for funding in years to come . . . . . "55% of Toledoans rely on this wifi system and we can continue providing it for an additional 1/4% payroll tax increase. If we do not get funding, the wireless program will be cancelled." The 55% (who might be getting access for free) will vote the tax in and we'll all be a little poorer. No thanks Bad idea Not 4 me.

Big Jim

From the interim IT Director comes word what Dr. Todd Davies is the lead on all that is Wi-Fi'd.

This Dr. Davies;

"Mr. Davies said revenue to meet the $2.16 million expense could come from the city's community partners, converting city cell phones to Wi-Fi, and Homeland Security grants.

He was challenged for details by Councilman Betty Shultz, who noted that Mrs. Scott said she had a plan in her computer to cover the city's $2.16 million commitment when she was fired.

"I do not have that plan with me," Mr. Davies said.

Mr. Davies said he obtained access to Mrs. Scott's computer, but did not find the information council members were seeking. She was the co-leader on the project with Mr. Davies."

So many more questions are raised again with his statements

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

I have my desktop which I use. I was over at Sam

Old South End Broadway

I was in a car accident on June 9, and finally got together with Progressive Insurance (who represented the driver who hit me in the rear). The claims adjuster said that it would be about a half-hour before she could determine the amount that her insurance company would pay me as a settlement.

She said that the connection ran a little slow when she was in the field. I told her that if she needed a w-fi connection that there was a library branch only a couple of blocks away she could use. She said no thanks, that her company used a satellite to move data back and forth. She had taken a number of pictures (or videos) of the damage so I am assuming she sent these over the connection.

She came back from the parked car with a nicely printed check (which I assume was printed on a small printer she had in the car) about 35 minutes later. The laptop looked like a GRiD (remember when those were top-of-the-line?).

Old South End Broadway

I brought up using Sprint or AT&T broad band cards for the connections.

Cost too much as I was told.

But then again I asked on June 15, 2007 for the types of devices that need the Wi-Fi or would like to be used with Wi-Fi and I am still waiting for answer,

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

After a quick Google of the effectiveness of computers in classrooms, it seems the jury is still out on that one. Here's an example of billions of dollars spent on a technology that has mixed results. Rather than undergoing a rigorous program of ascertaining whether it was money well spent, schools just jumped on the bandwagon. Does it help or hurt? Who knows.

At the risk of sounding like an old fart, I have to say that my old computer-less education was a helluvalot better than what the kids today are getting. They can't speak English. They don't know math. They don't read. Sometimes technology is NOT the answer.

I'm not putting the Wi-Fi idea down, but we should do some serious investigation before committing a lot of money to this pie-in-the-sky idea.

It's just a matter of having a wireless card like this one:

http://cgi.ebay.com/802-11g-54Mbp-Wireless-Card-For-Dell-Inspiron-7000-7...

We don't remember days only moments...

The wi-fi plan in Toledo is not a muni-wi-fi.

It is a service provided by a private company and the service is ad supported or can be purchased out for a monthly fee.

The city is not an ISP in the plan.

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

With regards to your letter to the editor; how many devices in the city
are capable of using the services you spoke about.

How many can send and receive the pictures and so on that you commented
on.

Is the technology adequate in the city sector to support all the
features that you highlighted or will there be a need to update hardware
and software to be able to utilize the wi-fi?

And is there any consideration given as to the limited access when
inside building and structure as reported by some reports, to limit the
access of the wi-fi network?

No answers of yet. Some of the professional staff at government center fail to respond, but the questions were just sent today.

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

Your penmanship is great, you can spell decently and maybe superbly, and you've done real research in a real library with real books, all because you didn't have a computer with spellcheck. Now that you have all that knowledge, having a computer is a bonus. But it didn't give you any of the skills that you mentioned. All that came through hard work, pouring over books and writing papers by hand. I learned the language by diagramming sentences on a blackboard. How many kids today even know what a sentence diagram is?

And if I ever hear another kid say, "I seen it", I'll scream.

I guess you're right there!

No, seems to be quite normal.

I did pose your comments to Director Scott and others and we will see what they respond with, if at all.

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

This group or agency is aimed to the state level communication.

Ohio has;

"Unified Network Services is a provider of voice, data, and video connectivity services for state government. We focus on providing shared infrastructure for cabinet agencies and serve as the Internet Service Provider to state government. Services are provided internally when costs are lower or important functions are best met, or master contracts are developed when there is a shared need among agencies. Unique agency network procurements are supported when they are consistent with state standards."

http://oit.ohio.gov/SDD/NetworkServices/index.aspx

There is no mention of local police but it would make sense that the systems would be compatible.

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

Nothing as of yet, the questions were posed on this past Saturday and all have read the mail and have yet to respond.

Another request, this time including the Mayor's office, was sent today.

The none responses from the professional staff is pretty much norm until more and more e-mails are sent.

And I send e-mail as I want the words in writing so there is less of he said, she said and so on.

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

I cringe every time I see or hear the words "Buckeye Institute".

From: Scott, Patsy
To: Neighborhood Concerns Toledo, Mayor
Cc: twoquigleys Sarantou, George
Subject: RE: First responders and wi-fi - Second request for response, please
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2007 10:30:59 -0400

Please see the letter to the Editor in the Blade. Your question is explained in that summary.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
And I inturn posed the same question to her once more;

"
However, this wi-fi is being 'advertised' as for the safety forces and
making them better able to respond - and serve and protect. So what ever
happened to the 800 mhz and does the new radio system fit in or
complement the wi-fi?"

It seems the response is the same non-response that most give out at first until pressed for answer and I will continue to keep pressing.

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

Ms. Scott retired or was fired, who knows anymore.

The same questions I posed to her, I have now posed to her replacement.

Any answer I should get will be posted.

I am not a gambling person, so my suggestion would be to get someone qualified from outside of government center to review this...ah...but...wait...Councilwoman Schultz stated that are no consultants as good as former Director Scott.

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

...to bigjim! (How do we save this post for posterity?) I can see it now...Nostrodamus who? We rely on BigJim...

Of sending bijims' comments to the folks at government center.

The selling point of wireless access is nice, but if we do not want or need it, well, it is not much of a selling point.

Viva! Public discourse.

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

I am not familiar with the Institute but in this case there are points that could be taken into account with regards to the wi-fi scheme.

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

...disrespectful answer I think any public servant has given...

Instead of answering your question she tells you to go look up some letter to the editor? Lame - what if you don't get the Blade? What if you'd rather have her answer your questions directly instead of sending you to some word-limited notice in a newspaper.

This is unacceptable.

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